Spring is well and truly with us and now is the perfect time to give your home a good clean and tackle your clutter. During winter we often have the house shut against the cold and we tend to hibernate leaving a few months where clutter can take over. There is plenty of research that shows how clutter negatively affects our ability to focus. It competes for our attention and makes it difficult to process information.
Clutter, however you define it, can be bad for your health. According to Psychology Today, people tend to feel like life is out of control when they surround themselves with more things than they can manage. The mess causes stress. If you’re not taking care of the clutter in your home, you may not be taking care of yourself either.
Living in an organised, clutter free home gives you physical space, it makes it easier to find things, it prevents the build up of mess and it allows your brain space to relax and rejuvenate.
So, collect those unwanted items and give them a second life by donating them to your local nonprofit organisation.
Where do I start?
Start with one room at a time. It helps to focus even on one area per room (eg wardrobe) and gradually work your way to cover the whole room. If you flutter around like a butterfly, you will just waste your energy and feel completely overwhelmed.
Use the 3 box method to create a sorting system. As you go through the rooms and spaces in your home, you will need a system for sorting the items you find. Gather 3 boxes or storage bins, label them and use as follows:
Keep: Empty after you complete a space. Items you keep should go in their newly designated home. Optimally these things should be stored neatly in a container or drawer. Label if desired.
Get Rid Of It: Empty after you complete a space. Store any items you want to give away or sell outside your home – either put them in the vehicle you plan to transport them in or store them temporarily in a garage or an attic.
Storage: Empty into storage containers after you complete a space. As you fill your containers, label them or drop an inventory sheet on top and neatly put them in your storage area.
Organised first; buy second. Buying a ton of storage pieces and supplies before you sort through our home won't do you any good unless they fit the space (on the shelf, under the bed, in the wardrobe). Clear out first, assess what you really need and then buy a few bins to start.
Clean as you go. As you remove items to sort through them, use the opportunity to clean the drawers, wardrobes, shelf etc where the items were stored.
The 80/20 Rule. When it comes to clothing, we generally only wear 20 percent of the clothes we own 80 percent of the time. This rule tends to hold true for other things as well, such as video games, computer parts, books, DVDs, toys and more. Your mission is to get rid of the things you don’t use 80 percent of the time.
Getting Over Sunk Costs. In the world of economics, costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered are referred to as sunk costs. As you go through the items in your house, most things should be considered sunk costs (except for rare situations where an item may have increased in value). Since you cannot get the money back that you spent on that item, you should only think about the value that thing can add to your life in the future. Understanding this concept of sunk costs can help you make more rational decisions about what to keep and what you should toss.
Keep like things together. Categorising things as you go through them is imperative to organising your home. In fact, keeping like things together forces you to organise your home. And it will make your life easier! Store like items close to where you will use them and you’ll not only know where they are when you need them, but you’ll reduce some of the little frustrations in your daily life.
Give yourself enough time. Rome wasn't built in a day and very few people have the energy and/or focus to spend 8 hours organising. You're likely to become frustrated and less efficient as the day progresses. It's much better to spend a few hours - 2 or 3 - on one space.
Complete each task completely. Of course you will need to sort things into categories (e.g., toss, recycle, donate, give to friend, put in deep storage). But here's the crucial part: Once you have decided where something is going to go — take it there. Never keep bags for charity or boxes for friends in your home to deliver later. Do it now. Finish the process. Take the bags and boxes out to the trash or recycling immediately. If you're donating something or giving something to a friend or family member, put the items in your car or make arrangements for dropping them off. You've done so much work getting this stuff ready to take out, complete the deal!
Good Enough is Enough. Very few people have closets and drawers that resemble those in catalogues. Mostly after we've organised a space it doesn't look like an ad for Trust me. I've been in a lot of houses and apartments and even after we've totally reorganised a space, it doesn't look like an ad for Howard's Storage World. It looks great and works properly, but it is a space that is used by an actual human being, not one that has been carefully staged by a team of stylists and marketers for a non-existent resident. You will ultimately be disappointed if perfection is your goal. The goal is to set up a space that works well for your needs. That is success.
If you feel too overwhelmed to sort through your clutter and just need a helping hand, please contact Liesel at Your Fairy Godmother Services on 0430 301 232 to discuss how we may help you.